Wednesday, August 13, 2008

So the Collector's Edition WAR beta test has begun!

And, obviously, I'm a part of it. I can't say much since the NDA is still in effect, but I can say that I will be testing tiers 1 to 3. I don't know where, but that was posted by one of the Mythic folks. Anyway, so far the game is awesome. I will be making my next post when the NDA is lifted (also, that will be my 100th post). Anyway, see you all then.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A thought on current DW vs 2H mechanics for Death Knights

I realize this is still beta, and everything is likely to change, but really I just want to vent. I spend a fair amount of time at the Official Death Knight Beta forums, lurking and reading. Now, one of the longest standing problems has been the lack of good DWing support.

Death Knights rely largely on their "Strikes" for their yellow damage, due to cooldowns of other abilities. Strikes are exactly what one would expect: A weapon damage based attack with possibly some bonus damage or an extra effect (or both). For example, Blood Strike is one of the first of these abilities you get. It is an instant attack that does 60% weapon damage, plus X damage per disease on the target (X varies depending on the rank) for one Blood Rune.

Now, anyone who's ever played an Level 40+ Arms Warrior will quite assuredly tell you that attacks of this nature are best off used by a high damage 2H (like Apolyon, the Soul-Render). The reason for this is because the majority of the damage is done by the weapon itself, and the bonus damage can only account for so much (even with abilities that scale, a good two hander will account for around half to two-thirds of the damage). Also, since instant attacks are outside of swing speed (and will most likely be normalized based upon what Blue posts have shown), what will matter is not weapon speed, but damage range (which again, benefits 2Hs).

I went through and figured out which abilities had a low enough cooldown to be put into a normal rune/RP rotation (i.e. every 10-12 seconds depending on if you want to include a two or three rune ability, and 1 or 2 RP abilities), and this is what I came up with (note these are for the next build, not the current one):

Red: Blood Rune
Blue: Frost Rune
Green: Unholy Rune
Purple: Runic Power
Black: No cost

Abilities with too long a cooldown:
Strangulate: 30 seconds
Rune Tap: 1 minute
Vampiric Blood: 2 minutes
Death and Decay: 30 seconds
Army of the Dead: 1 minute
Mark of Blood: 3 minutes
Hysteria: 2 minutes
Chains of Ice: 15 seconds
Unbreakable Armor: 2 minutes
Howling Blast: 30 seconds
Anti-Magic Shell: 15 seconds
Anti-Magic Zone: 2 minutes
Bone Shield: 30 seconds
Icebound Fortitude: 1 minute
Dancing Rune Weapon: 1 minute
Hungering Cold: 1 minute
Summon Gargoyle: 5 minutes
Unholy Blight: 1 minute
Raise Dead: 5 minutes
Lichebourne: 5 minutes
Death Chill: 2 minutes

Abilities with short enough cooldowns:
Blood Strike: GCD
Pestilence: GCD
Heart Strike: GCD
Icy Touch: 6 seconds
Mind Freeze: 10 seconds
Death Strike: GCD(?)
Obliterate: GCD
Plague Strike: GCD
Corpse Explosion: GCD
Scourge Strike: GCD
Death Coil: GCD
Frost Strike: GCD

Now, if you look over those abilities that have a low enough cooldown to be used in every rotation, you'll see a distinct lack of non-Strikes (despite it's name, Obliterate is also a Strike). Arguably, one could shun Strikes and rely exclusively on Icy Touch, Corpse Explosion, and Death Coil since those abilities either scale with AP instead of Weapon Damage (Mind Freeze should be saved for silencing and does less damage than Icy Touch anyway). There are problems with this idea of course too. First off, what do you do with the Blood Runes. Pestilence doesn't scale at all, according to what I'm reading, and generates additional threat, meaning it's crappy if you want to DPS. Corpse Explosion requires a corpse, and once you're out of them, it's value quickly is diminished.

Another idea I had while typing this is using various abilities over the course of a few cycles, meaning a real cycle for you lasts 20 or 30 seconds instead of 10 seconds. Obviously the longer a cycle lasts, the more abilities are added to the mix, so it would require a re-evaluation, but even at that point one can't rely on non-strikes, which means a great hindrance to a DK's DPS or TPS.

Looking at some of the stuff uploaded on Wowhead from the beta, at 77, the highest damage 1H weapon can hit is 353, or if you are using Blood Strike and have two diseases up, that will hit for, at maximum, around 650 damage. On the other hand, if you have the best 2H, it can do a maximum damage of 536, or with Blood Strike, around 850 damage. That's a difference of around 200 damage. Those numbers are assuming approximately 1,700 Attack Power, which is totally reachable as shown by this screenshot from beta.

After doing this math, I came up with a question: While 200 damage may seem like a lot, maybe as time goes on the difference is getting smaller. I ran the numbers, and thanks to normalization coefficients the difference in AP benefits will always be approximately 72.7% between 1Hs and 2Hs. Next numbers I checked were the difference between maximum damage ranges. This is even less in 1Hs favor, with the difference spreading a small amount from the highest quality blues pre-expansion and the best available blues, post-tBC (from 56% difference to 59% difference). If the trend I'm seeing continues (and I see no reason for it not too), 1H weapons doing Instant Attacks that use weapon damage as a modifier will never be comparable to doing them with 2Hs. There are exceptions, such as Mutilate which use both weapons, but that is an exception, and not the rule. Most Instant Attacks (and all the ones currently for DKs) are based on the main weapon.

Now I'm going to go over the individual talents and abilities which specifically be beneficial to each given weapon type. Now this is based on three assumption: Both setups assume equal AP (thus talents which give AP and are based on AP get equal benefit), DW has more white DPS, while 2H has stronger individual attacks (i.e. Weapon abilities like the Strikes).

Black: Core Abilities
Red: Blood Talents
Blue: Frost Talents
Green: Unholy Talents

Blood Strike
Death Strike
Plague Strike
Two-Handed Weapon Specialization
Heart Strike
Might of Mograine
Dancing Rune Weapon
Glacier Rot
Runic Power Mastery
Merciless Combat
Frost Strike
Guile of Gorefiend
Tundra Stalker
Vicious Strikes
Scourge Strike
Rage of Rivendare

Unholy Presence
Bloody Vengeance
Blood Rune Mastery
Will of the Necropolis
Nerves of Cold Steel
Icy Talons
Killing Machine
Blood-Caked Blade
Unholy Rune Mastery

Now, it may seem obvious to some that the quick-fix would be to make all Strikes work with either the 2H or both weapons, but this would be a very, very bad fix. Almost every talent that benefits a 2H more than DWing does so because it benefits a Strike ability. The only two exceptions are Two-Handed Weapon Specialization and Dancing Rune Weapon. The reason for this is because the combined damage of both weapons would almost always be greater than a 2H. Thing about instant attacks when DWing is the trade-off of a greatly decreased hit chance doesn't apply to yellow damage, so attacks which use both weapons work at a 9% decreased hit chance instead of 19+%. Basically we'd go from one extreme of 2Hing reigning supreme to DWing reigning supreme. Not what I want. I want, like so much else, for those who want to DW (like me) and those who want to use 2Hs to be equally valid or at least close enough so that there's a reasonable choice instead of the lopsided situation that we have right now.

Now for a somewhat offtopic point that will go back to my major point later: My biggest complaint about the above listed talents is that there are more talents in the Frost Tree that boost 2Hs than any of the other trees. Frost, which has Nerves of Cold Steel, the DWing talent. Now, I understand the talents like Annihilation, Deathchill, Merciless Combat, and Guile of Gorefiend, which boost Obliterate. But with ones like Glacier Rot and Runic Power Mastery, which boost Frost Strike, a core ability in the Frost Tree, which also is preferential to 2H over DWing, I think there's just something wrong.

The funny thing about Frost Strike is it used to be perfectly suited to 1Hs. Originally it was on a next-attack timer instead of instant (think Heroic Strike) and cost one Frost Rune. This was before the implementation of Blood of the North. At this point Blizzard announced that they had decided to scrap the idea of changing your rune setups, which meant you would only ever have 2 runes of each type, and never more or less. This change was done to ease balancing Death Knights because one would need to consider each setup of runes for each ability or talent, meaning way too much work for Blizzard. But this change also meant the planned Frost Tree, was far too Frost Rune costly, with only 2 Frost Runes.

With this in mind many players clamored for a change of both the availability of Frost Runes (in the form of Death Runes) and the current mechanics of Frost Strike, which was now doing far too little damage for a single Frost Rune since they were so scarce (since it was on next-strike, only the bonus damage actually was an increase in damage). For the latter problem, instead of doing one or the other, Blizzard did both. They changed it to an instant, meaning it was better to use a 2H, and made it cost Runic Power. Now, this coincided with the addition of Blood of the North which fixed the former problem, which was no longer a real problem since Frost Strike now cost RP, and there were far less abilities which called for Frost or Unholy runes instead of Blood.

Now I'm going to get back to my point, which is that for a deep Frost Death Knight, having abilities that mesh well with DWing and using a 1H for your attacks would be wonderful. First problem would be what to do with all the Blood Runes, but this one has already been solved: Blood of the North. Yeah, you need to spam Blood Strike every other cycle (except for the one you're using D&D on), but that's fine if it opens up more damage elsewhere.

Frost could use a Frost-Rune spammable ability that doesn't rely on AP... the funny thing is the best option about this is, IMO, going right back to where we were before, which is having Frost Strike be on next strike and cost one Frost Rune. At max it would allow for 10 or so Frost Strikes over the course of a 1 minute period, in addition to all the damage from the other abilities, plus it wouldn't cost a global cooldown. While one could counter by saying Frost Strike would do more damage as an instant than as a Next-Attack (and one would be right) the same problem occurs again and again: There's no reason to DW with Instants, while DWing while using Next-Attacks works best.

In lieu of making Frost Strike a spammable ability that relies on Frost Runes, the addition of a non-strike based attack would be wonderful. Something simple like a short range, single target instant that does mediocre damage. Doesn't need to be a lot, but enough for it to be worth the rune without needing to rely on the crappy weapon damage of a DWing Death Knight.

For Runic Power, DKs of all specs are fine: Death Coil works great as it stands, and currently Frost Strike is also a good option for deep Frost Death Knights.

The final area of issue Unholy Runes, but the utility that Plague Strike brings (Blood Plague), it's a useful ability, even if it's not perfectly suited to DWing. Not everything can be in favor of DWing, and this is an area I'd be willing to leave alone.

In the end, the lack of viable spammable Frost Rune based ability that does damage based on AP or is next attack (and not instant attack weapon damage) is my biggest gripe. If that was fixed, I'd have no real complaints about DWing because I think it would be in a similar setup to a 2H Death Knight as long as a proper spec was used.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


You know, every time it seems like I plan on doing a normal post, Blizzard goes off and reveals something that just blows my mind away. Well the most recent bout God and everybody has already talked about... but I'm going to too.

A while back Blizzard announced that the reason that Paladins were one of the last ones to get their updates because they were doing a major overhaul to how the class works. They weren't kidding. Most of the changes are coming in the form of the talent trees, but there has also been a humongous change to a core mechanic of the Paladins. In fact the changes are so big, I expect many people to be like "tl;dr lol" and this to be one of my most under-commented posts.


First the huge change:

The Blessing system has gone through a major change, separating and streamlining a lot of it. First and foremost, the actual blessings (the 10 minute and 30 minute greater forms) have been cut down to 4 core blessings, two of them talented. Blessing of Might, Blessing of Wisdom, Blessing of Kings and Blessing of Sanctuary are all unchanged from their pre-WotLK forms.

Now, the first thought running through the Holy Paladins minds is: "Blessing of Light! Where's Blessing of Light!" Well, you'll be glad to know that Blessing of Light's bonus to healing has been rolled into the core spells, meaning it's no longer needed. Much the way they rolled the bonuses from the old Improved Seal of the Crusader talent into the base spell (addendum: Seal of the Crusader has been removed entirely from the game. Good riddance I say). So Blizzard managed to free up one slot of Blessings from the Paladins. Yay!

The other major thought I'm sure everyone is having is "BLESSING OF SALVATION! WTF KAZ? WTF!?!?!" I did not miss it, they have removed Blessing of Salvation as we know it. But before you start screaming that the world is ending, let me explain. This will also lead me to what happened to the other three Blessings (Sacrifice, Protection, and Freedom). All four of those Blessings have become what will become known as Hands. Hands are short duration spells with cooldowns of 25 seconds or more.

First I will touch on the three "lesser" Hands: Protection, Sacrifice and Freedom. The primary purpose of changing these Blessings into Hands is to put them on a separate "spell list" from the Blessings. Far too often a Paladin would drop a Blessing of Protection on a DPS or a Healer to save him or her when they pulled aggro on a boss mob. This would save them, but then the Paladin would need to waste time and mana recasting their old blessing on the target to help them. Now if they do this, it won't erase the valuable Blessing.

Now, I will touch on Hand of Salvation. Unlike the previous three which have remained mostly the same, if not completely unchanged, Hand of Salvation is a completely different beast. Previously it reduced the threat generated by a person by 30%. Now it's a 10 second buff on a 2 minute cooldown that removes 2% of a person's total threat. Instead of reducing the amount of threat generated per attack, works like a threat dump, for 20% of your total threat. This is both better and worse than Blessing of Salvation. Now classes that have no threat dumps, like Warriors, Paladins, Shamans, and Death Knights can have some of their threat dumped off them without needing to disengage or slow down their DPS. On the other hand each player needs to be more cognizant of their own threat generation than ever before. While it appears Blizzard is intending to increase the threat generation of all tanks, the fact is that each person will be doing more threat overall and there's nothing that can be done about it (Tranquil Air Totem has also been removed).

Addendum: See here for the Hand spells.

Okay, now onto each individual talent tree I will quote the talent and give my own thoughts in italics:

First up is Retribution. I chose retribution first because it goes through the smallest change in my book.

But before I go into Retribution I have some bad news and I have some good news. First the bad news: As Blizzard stated multiple times, the Alliance is not getting Seal of Blood. I've checked it out and it's the real deal. We're not getting it. But the good news is we are getting Seal of the Martyr. Which has the exact same mechanics as Seal of Blood. dot dot dot. So there we go. The Alliance is getting Seal of Blood the Martyr. Alliance PvE Ret Paladins every can rejoice (minor note: Horde Paladins are getting a counterpart to Seal of Vengeance called Seal of Corruption).

Tier 1:

Tier 2:
Heart of the Crusader: In addition to the normal effect, your Judgement spells will also increase the critical strike chance of all attacks made against that target by an additional 1/2/3%.

With the removal of the spell Seal of the Crusader (note: All holy damage abilities had their damage boosted to make up for the loss of Judgement of the Crusader), they couldn't have a talent that relied on it, so the just rolled the Improved Seal of the Crusader talent into the remaining debuff seals. Now, there's some talk about whether or not each application of a given seal gives this bonus, but I consider it unlikely since this was not doable before WotLK, and would be very powerful, being able to have +9% crit chance on a single target if you bring properly built Paladins.

Tier 3:
Conviction: Increases your chance to get a critical strike with all spells and attacks by 1/2/3/4/5%.

Previously Conviction only increased crit chance with physical attacks. With it also affecting spells, Ret Paladins can get more mileage out of their non-melee attacks (has some synergy with later talents and the Illumination talent in the Holy tree). In addition this talent is low enough on the Retribution tree that a Holy Paladin could pick it up for even more spell crit.

Seal of Command: 14% of base mana - Instant cast - Gives the Paladin a chance to deal additional Holy damage equal to 70% of normal weapon damage. Only one Seal can be active on the Paladin at any one time. Lasts 30 sec. Unleashing this Seal's energy will judge an enemy, instantly causing Holy damage, double if the target is stunned or incapacitated.

Seal of Command... the mainstay of Alliance Retribution Paladins for so long. Does it have any value now that we have Seal of Blood the Martyr? I don't know. The wording of it is different than the wording of the talent on the old talent trees, so it very well may be different. Until we get some more clarification by someone in Beta, I can only guess, but if I were to guess here's my take: Seal of Command will remain the premier PvP Ret seal. With it's huge damage bursts, it can far outstrip what Seal of Blood or Seal of the Martyr can do per hit. But in a PvE situation, unless they have vastly increased Seal of Command's Proc per Minute ratio, Seal of Blood or Seal of the Martyr will come out ahead since it is guaranteed to proc every swing, plus they do a small amount of damage to the wielder, which means they get a little extra healing and a little extra mana from Spiritual Attunement.

Tier 4:

Tier 5:
Sanctified Retribution: Damage caused by targets affected by Retribution Aura is increased by 2%.

Now for some devastating news to the majority of Ret Paladins: Sanctity Aura is gone, removed from the game entirely. It would be even more of a hit to Retribution utility if they took away the Improved Sanctity Aura effect, so they turned it into a one point talent and applied it to the Retribution Aura, a sorely underused aura as it was, which will find new life in WotLK with this and a completely new talent I will mention later. Also, remember, Aura's are now raid wide, so this will apply to all members it hits.

Sheath of Light: Increases your spell power by an amount equal to 10/20/30% of your attack power and your critical healing spells heal the target for 20/40/60% of the healed amount over 12 seconds.

Any loss of damage and utility from the loss of Sanctity Aura is more than made up for right here. First and foremost is the AP to ppell power conversion which is something which should have been added at the same time a similar talent was added to the Enhancement Shaman talent tree. Anyway, it may not have been there then, but it is there now and it's worth it! Currently, fully raid buffed, Horgrimm has anywhere from 2.3k to 2.7k AP. If he had Sheath of Light, that would translate to over 700 spell damage, in some cases over 800. This would allow him to properly utilize many spells that are reliant on spell damage and not STR or AP which is the main stat for Retribution Paladins currently.

In addition to giving Retribution Paladins access to Spell Power (the new name for Spell Damage) through AP, it also gives them a handy utility boost in terms of healing. Every time a a Ret Paladin would crit, it would cause a HoT for a percent of the amount healed. This is actually a lot more powerful than it looks. First off, Blizzard is consolidating Crit and Spell Crit into one stat, so as one builds up crit, their spell crit also goes up. Using Horgrimm again, in his current Ret gear, raid buffed, he would have around 25% crit rating if he started tossing off heals. That's as much as many entry-level raiding Holy Paladins have. So he could put that part of the talent to full use despite wearing DPS gear.

In addition, while wearing his Ret gear, the boost he got from his AP would apply to his healing spells as well. Now, 700-800 spell damage doesn't seem like much until you realize that in WotLK they are doing away with +healing and +damage and everything is being rolled into one stat called Spell Power (as I mentioned above). For offensive spells, Spell Power will work like +damage did. For healing spells, Spell Power will give a much stronger boost, equaling the same boost +healing would give despite the lower number. Basically, wearing his Retribution gear, Horgrimm will be able to be a full DPSer, or in a pinch step back and start healing and be quite effective at it.

Tier 6:
Judgements of the Wise: Your Judgement spells restore mana to up to 3 group or raid members totalling 20/40/60% of the damage caused.

Prior to the addition of Sheath of Light, this talent would have been of little value. Judgements' damage are based on Spell Power, and it was a stat that Retribution Paladins were sorely lacking. But now with Sheath of Light it's a strong utility talent and alone would justify the position of at least one Retribution Paladin in every raid. While this does replace the old talent Sanctified Judgement, I think it will end up being stronger since it scales with Spell Power, while Sanctified Judgement didn't.

Tier 7:
Repentance: 9% of base mana - 20 yd range - Instant cast - 1 min cooldown - Puts the enemy target in a state of meditation, incapacitating them for up to 1 min. Any damage caused will awaken the target. Usable against Demons, Dragonkin, Giants, Humanoids and Undead.

Ret Paladins have CC? Say what? Repentance used to be primarily a form of PvP interrupt, with minor PvE utility. In WotLK it underwent a major overhaul. The downside is it's mana cost jumped up a lot and will scale with level. The upside is that it's duration and availalble targets were hugely expanded. Previously it was only usable against Humanoids, but with it's new list of targets, there are few things that cannot be CCed. As for it's duration, it used to last 6 seconds, now it lasts 1 minute (assuming no damage is done to it) to match it's cooldown. Congratulations, Ret Paladins!

Divine Purpose: Reduces your chance to be hit by spells and ranged attacks by 1/2/3% and reduces the duration of movement slowing effects by 10/20/30%.

A PvP talent to be sure, and it was that way before the changes. Previously, it lowered the chance to be critically hit by melee and ranged attacks by 4/7/10%, which was quite useful prior to tBC. But with the wide spread availability of Resilience in level 70 PvP, such a talent loses a lot of it's luster. Instead what was crippling Retribution Paladins was any CC that slowed them and allowed their prey to get away. With this talent they can quickly shed such things and catch up and continue the beat down, not to mention giving them a small avoidance boost against ranged enemies.

Tier 8:
Fanaticism: Increases the critical strike chance of all Judgements capable of a critical hit by 5/10/15/20/25% and reduces threat caused by all actions by 6/12/18/24/30% except when under the effects of Righteous Fury.

This talent is almost identical to it's tBC counterpart, with the only difference being the chance to crit on a Judgement being increased from 3/6/9/12/15% to it's current form. A straight buff right there.

Sanctified Wrath: Increases the critical strike chance of Hammer of Wrath by 25/50%, reduces the cooldown of Avenging Wrath by 30/60 secs and while affected by Avenging Wrath 25/50% of all damage caused bypasses damage reduction effects.

The first new Retribution talent, it's quite a doozy. Increased crit chance on Hammer of Wrath (which will be stronger than ever now thanks to Sheath of Light) will make it quite the potent ability, while the buffs to Avenging Wrath will turn many Retribution Paladins into lean, mean fighting machines.

Tier 9:
Swift Retribution: Your Retribution Aura also increases casting, ranged and melee attack speeds by 1/2/3%.

Another new talent, again, buffing Retribution Aura, making it the aura to use for a Retribution Paladin.

The Art of War: Your damaging Crusader Strikes have a 5/10/15% chance to cause your next Judgement spell to cause double damage.

This talent requires you to have picked up Crusader Strike before you can get it. Again, Sheath of Light shows it's value. With the new amounts of damage a Judgement can put out, double damage along with the potential to crit is a very large boost to a Retribution Paladin's damage.

Tier 10:
Righteous Vengeance: Increases critical damage bonus of all attacks by 3/6/9/12/15%.

With all the crits going on all over the place as a Ret Paladin, this talent is just amazingly strong. What else is there to say?

Tier 11:
Divine Storm: 12% of base mana - 5 yd range - Instant cast - 10 sec cooldown - Requires Melee Weapon - An instant weapon attack that causes Holy damage to up to 4 enemies within 8 yards. The Divine Storm heals up to 3 party or raid members totalling 20% of the damage caused.

The crowning achievement of the new Retribution tree. Whatever utility Retribution Paladins previously lacked, it will be gone with this ability, IMO. Much like Shadow Priests with their talented abilities, now Retribution Paladins can DPS and heal and restore mana all at the same time. While it will not be in the same values as a Shadow Priest can put out, what they lack in numbers they make up for in targets. A Shadow Priest is limited to his party, while the Ret Paladin can cover the entire raid. A major boost to Retribution Paladins everywhere.

Next up is the Holy tree.

Tier 1:
Spiritual Focus: Gives your Flash of Light and Holy Light spells a 14/28/42/56/70% chance to not lose casting time when you take damage.

This talent has undergone no textual changes, but instead has changed locations. Previously the spot it inhabited was held by Divine Strength, but that talent has moved over to the Protection tree, and this talent has moved up from Tier 2 to Tier 1 to replace it.

Seals of the Pure: Increases the damage done by your Seal of Righteousness, Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption and their Judgement effects by 3/6/9/12/15%.

This talent used to be Improved Seal of Righteousness, but was changed to include Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption (the Horde equivalent of SoV). In addition it was moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1, swapping places with Divine Intellect. For tanks and Paladins leveling as Holy, this talent is a nice choice since either of the options it boosts for the given Paladin are strongly reliant on Spell Power and will get a decent boost from this talent and the talents innate in the tree of the player's choice.

Tier 2:
Healing Light: Increases the amount healed by your Holy Light, Flash of Light and the effectiveness of Holy Shock spells by 4/8/12%.

Much like the talents on the previous tier, this talent moved up one, going from Tier 3 to Tier 2. This will make it available sooner for leveling Holy Paladins, increasing their utility in early instances. In addition, it has been expanded to also boost the power of Holy Shock. I'm not 100% certain if that only applies to it's healing efficiency or it's damage output as well. If the latter, this is a very valuable tool to Shockadins.

Divine Intellect: Increases your total Intellect by 3/6/9/12/15%.

As I mentioned previously, this talent moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2. In addition, it's previous percentile modifier was increased from 2/4/6/8/10% to it's current value, giving Holy Paladins a nice buff, both to their mana pools and their crit chance.

Unyielding Faith: Reduces the duration of all Fear and Disorient effects by 15/30%.

First the more obvious change on this talent. Previously it increased the chance to resist Fear and Disorient effect by 5/10%, now it decreases the duration of these effects by a lot more. Quite a nice change, since it's always works as opposed to chance to resist which is only percentile. Plus lowered duration means it's faster until you become immune to the CC effect.

Also, much like the other talents I've mentioned this one got moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2. I'm now going to go into detail on why I think certain talents were moved to where they were. By having the Spiritual Focus, Healing Light, and Unyielding Faith talents all available in the first two tiers, it gives a level 19 Holy Paladin decent healing and access to vital PvP talents.

Tier 3:
Illumination: After getting a critical effect from your Flash of Light, Holy Light, or Holy Shock heal spell, gives you a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to gain mana equal to 60% of the base cost of the spell.

Talent remains unchanged from it's pre-WotLK counterpart, but it's moved up one tier from 4 to 3. The only reason I can figure for this is because with all the other talents moved around, Tier 3 was left with too few talents for a single tier and this was an easy move.

Improved Lay on Hands: Gives the target of your Lay on Hands spell a 25/50% bonus to their armor value from items for 15 sec. In addition, the cooldown for your Lay on Hands spell is reduced by 2/4 min.

First off an overview of the changes. The old bonus was a 15/30% bonus for 2 minutes, and the cooldown reduction was 10/20 minutes. Now, to truly appreciate how amazing this talent has become, one must understand how awesome the core spell has become. The new Lay on Hands no longer costs all of a Paladin's mana, and has a cooldown of 20 minutes as a base effect. While it still restores 100% of the Paladins health and some mana (max rank is currently 1950 mana). Now being able to give an armor boost along with not draining all of the mana and having a cooldown makes this spell a real "Oh Crap" button for a Protection Paladin and an amazing fast, powerful heal for a Holy Paladin.

Tier 4:
Improved Concentration Aura: Increases the effect of your Concentration Aura by an additional 5/10/15% and reduces the duration of any Silence or Interrupt effect used against an affected group member by 10/20/30%. The duration reduction does not stack with any other effects.

This talent used to be in the 4th tier of the Protection tree, but normally the only people who would pick it up were Holy Paladins. Instead of putting it up high in another tree, Blizzard listened to the player base and moved it where those who needed it could access it easily.

Tier 5:
Pure of Heart: Reduces the duration of Curse and Disease effects by 25/50%.

Similar to Unyielding Faith, but this one applies to Curses and Diseases. Used to increase chance to resist both. Major PvP talent. Due to both of those effects not having diminishing returns on many of them, and because this talent is deeper in the Holy Tree I believe it was made stronger. In it's old incarnation, it was next to useless because diseases were next to non-existent in PvP and a Warlock could easily recast a resisted curse. Lowering their duration is very powerful and it gives a Holy Paladin much more survivability against both, since diseases can be stacked (thus hard for a Paladin to cleanse) and they can't remove curses at all, other than with Divine Shield.

Sanctified Light: Increases the critical effect chance of your Holy Light and Holy Shock spells by 2/4/6%.

This talent was increased to also include Holy Shock in addition to Holy Light. This makes both Sanctified Light and Holy Power potent offensive and restorative talents. A welcome change to Shockadins everywhere.

Blessed Hands: Reduces the mana cost and increases the resistance to Dispel effects of all Hand spells by 15/30%.

The first new talent for Holy Paladins, this is primarily a PvP talent, where being able to dispel or purge Hand of Freedom or Hand of Protection in arena is a killer. Honestly, none of them have overly large mana costs, so that's not a major selling point in PvE, but it is still helpful (especially since Holy Paladins will commonly be tasked with hitting the person who's highest on threat with Hand of Salvation).

Tier 6:

Tier 7:
Holy Shock: Rank 7 - 650 Mana - 20 yd range - Instant cast - 6 sec cooldown - Blasts the target with Holy energy, causing 1296 to 1402 Holy damage to an enemy, or 1431 to 1549 healing to an ally.

First, and most obvious change, is that it's had it's cooldown lowered from 15 seconds to 6 seconds. This alone doesn't make Holy Shock worth it, but it was one of the longstanding problems with it as a reliable healing spell. But when you combine it with the fact that the healing effect has had it's ranged extended (to 40 yards even though it's unlisted as an effect) and the amount healed has been strongly buffed, it makes Holy Shock a very viable tool for healing.

Tier 8:
Infusion of Light: Your Holy Shock critical hits reduce the cast time of your next Holy Light spell by 1.25/2.5 secs.

This is what really legitimizes Holy Shock as not just a gimmicked Holy Paladin spell, but a real useful tool. Every time the cooldown is up, I expect a Holy Paladin will throw a Holy Shock until this effect procs. And without a listed duration, this effect is probably permanent until you cast Holy Light, making it a strong power to be used.

Tier 9:
Sacred Cleansing: Your Cleanse spell has a 10/20/30% chance to increase the target's resistance to Disease, Magic and Poison by 30% for 10 sec.

I'm not really sure what was the intent of this one. I mean, it has utility in both PvE (if you're cleansing an effect, it will probably be cast again soon) and PvP (if you cleanse an effect, the person who put it up will probably reapply it). I'm just not sure of it's value. I'll leave it up to an actual healer to let me know the real value of this talent.

Enlightened Judgements: Increases the range of your Judgement spells by 10/20 yards.

This is half of the major change of Holy Paladin mechanics. One of the major complaints of Holy Paladins is they just stand there and heal. They have next to no ranged damage abilities, and really getting into melee range to melee while healing is far too dangerous. This gives a Holy Paladin the ability to stand back and do a small burst of damage every 8-10 seconds, allowing them to contribute more than just some healing. Also the range matches perfectly with the range of Holy Shock, and along with the new cooldown of Holy Shock, I'm sure it makes Shockadins quite happy in their pants.

Tier 10:
Judgements of the Pure: Your Judgement spells increase your casting and melee haste by 2/4/6/8/10% for 30 sec.

Here's the other half of the major change. Not only can a Holy Paladin contribute to DPS... they should contribute to DPS in order to make them better healers. If they aren't actively going out and casting a Judgement every 25 seconds or so, their healing potential will actually drop. It's an interesting change of pace for the Holy Paladin, and I'm sure quite welcome.

Tier 11:
Beacon of Light: Rank 5 - 2330 Mana - 40 yd range - 1.5 sec cast - The target becomes a Beacon of Light, healing all party or raid members within 10 yards for 2000 over 15 sec.

With a fast cast time, long range, no cooldown, ability to heal the entire raid, and the fact that there's no waiting to put a circle in it's place, Beacon of Light could easily find itself as one of the more powerful AOE healing spells in the game. A welcome breather to the monotony of Flash of Light spam (though it's not the only new healing spell Paladins are getting, though the details on the other one isn't fully clarified other than it will be a single charge version of Prayer of Mending).

Finally, we come to the Protection tree. Unlike the two previous trees there is not a lot of increased hybridization. Prot Paladins still will have a lot of life, very little mana, and their heals won't be fantastic. But the big change comes in the form of their gear and it undergoing a massive change. But I'm getting ahead of myself. All will become clear in time.

Tier 1:
Divine Strength: Increases your total Strength by 3/6/9/12/15%.

Moved from the Holy Tree (why was it there in the first place?) to the Protection tree. First impulse upon seeing this: Why is it there? But after looking over the rest of the tree, I've realized Blizzard's intent, and it's perfectly placed, but again, I'm getting ahead of myself. Also it's been buffed from 2/4/6/8/10% to it's current form.

Anticipation: Increases your chance to dodge by 1/2/3/4/5%.

Moved from Tier 3 to Tier 1, this talent has gone through a major change. Previously it boosted Defense by 4/8/12/16/20 points, it now increases your chance to dodge. While this version gives more total avoidance (5% as opposed to 2.4% avoidance and 0.8% chance to block) Defense gave a faster way to reach uncrittable, and gave some addition chance to be missed, which is always active even if you were knocked down.

Tier 2:
Stoicism: Reduces the duration of all Stun effects by an additional 10/20/30% and reduces the chance your spells will be dispelled by an additional 10/20/30%.

Moved from Tier 4 to Tier 2, replacing Precision (not sure if it was rolled into the class or just completely removed), making Stoicism more accessible to players who want to stack more points in their primary tree, or for people who want to pick up both Stoicism and Unyielding Faith. Obviously primarily a PvP talent, this one has been changed from 2 ranks to 3, and had it's previous chance to be stunned changed to lower stun duration. A very good investment for any PvPing Paladin.

Redoubt: Requires Shields - Damaging melee and ranged attacks against you have a 10% chance to increase your chance to block by 6/12/18/24/30%. Lasts 10 sec or 5 blocks.

This talent remains unchanged from it's pre-WotLK form, save that it was moved up from Tier 1 to Tier 2. This is a welcome change because previously you had to either pick Improved Devo Aura (worthless talent) or Redoubt (worthless save for it opening up Shield Specialization). Now this wasn't a huge deal for most Prot Paladins, because they were going to get Shield Spec anyway, but for Ret and Holy Paladins it was just filler points to get to the good stuff after. By making Tier 1 and Tier 2 have other viable options, it's not as bad to get there.

Addendum: Every Prot Paladin worth his salt really will want this talent now, if for no other reason than to open up Shield Spec. One of the new spells added to Paladins in WotLK is Shield of Righteousness, which is basically a Holy damage version of Shield Slam, including it's damage being based upon Shield Block Value. This is not a talented spell, which means it will be available to all talent builds, making it an amazing spell for MTs and OTs alike. A great addition to the class in general, and not just Prot Paladins.

Tier 3:
Improved Righteous Fury: While Righteous Fury is active, all damage taken is reduced by 2/4/6%.

Previously this talent boosted your threat generated when RF was active from 60% to 90%, and gave the above listed effect. With WotLK, they rolled the bonus threat into the baseline spell, making it always generate 90% additional threat from Holy damage, and this talent is only really needed by the Raiding Main Tanks, and not anyone who wants to tank decently at all. This is a welcome change, IMO because it allows Ret (and in some cases Holy) Paladins the ability to either be a MT for a 5-man, or quickly pop up RF and throw themselves at a mob if the MT goes down, potentially saving the run.

Toughness: Increases your armor value from items by 2/4/6/8/10%.

Moved up from Tier 2 to Tier 3, this talent remains unchanged. If I had to guess why they moved it was to fill out this tier for the PvP who wanted stuff from the fourth tier, but didn't want any of the other PvE centric talents.

Tier 4:
Divine Guardian: While Divine Shield is active 15/30% of all damage taken by party or raid members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin.

The first new Protection talent, it is a very interesting talent, this has amazing potential for a Holy Paladin, any PvP Paladin, and an OTing Raiding Prot Paladin. This one truly epitomizes the idea of the Paladin sacrificing himself or herself for the good of their allies.

Improved Hammer of Justice: Decreases the cooldown of your Hammer of Justice spell by 10/20/30 sec.

This talent received a hefty boost in WotLK, doubling the cooldown reduction from 5/10/15 sec to it's above listed form. Hammer of Justice currently maintains it's 60 second cooldown without this talent, so with it one will be able to stun every 30 seconds. A marked improvement in ability. PvP Paladins everywhere rejoice.

Improved Devotion Aura: Increases the armor bonus of your Devotion Aura by 17/34/50% and increases the amount healed on any target affected by Devotion Aura by 1/2/3%.

Improved Devotion Aura moved up from Tier 1 to Tier 4, replacing Improved Concentration Aura. It also went through a major overhaul, going from 5 ranks to 3, having the armor bonus boosted from 40% to 50%, which still is very little, but is a much more reasonable boost considering it is only 3 talent points now. Those changes alone might not have been enough to justify it's acquisition, but it also received the interesting effect of boosting the healing of any target effected by it by up to 3%. With Paladin Auras now affecting an entire raid, this makes Improved Devotion Aura a must-have for every Protection Paladin.

Tier 5:

Tier 6:

Tier 7:
Holy Shield: Rank 6 - 280 Mana - Instant cast - 8 sec cooldown - Requires Shields - Increases chance to block by 30% for 10 sec and deals 211 Holy damage for each attack blocked while active. Damage caused by Holy Shield causes 35% additional threat. Each block expends a charge. 4 charges.

Now, beyond the obvious change of increasing Holy Shield's damage to make up for the loss of Judgement of the Crusader, Holy Shield had it's cooldown lowered from 10 seconds to 8. I'm not complaining about this because against large amounts of monsters it means more HS uptime, and it means HS will never be down against raid bosses. But it does kinda sting that they are putting this in the game only after Protection Paladins no longer need it. Holy Shield was the means for a Protection Paladin to reach uncrushable status, but in WotLK, raid bosses will not crush at all. So the ability to keep HS up full time is no longer needed. It's not bad, just wish they had done it sooner.

Tier 8:

Tier 9:
Touched by the Light: Increases your spell power by an amount equal to 10/20/30% of your Stamina and increases the amount healed by your critical heals by 10/20/30%.

The counterpart to the Retribution talent Sheath of Light, this talent is actually the real cornerstone of the changes to the Protection tree. One of the longstanding problems with Protection Paladins is there are a lot of tanking pieces with a lot of stamina and few pieces with spell damage. In tBC this wasn't such a huge issue because Blizzard needed to make separate tanking gear for each of the three tanking classes. But with Death Knights coming in WotLK and them sharing tanking gear with Warriors, it seems silly to make an entire set of gear for just one role when you could shift their abilities and stats to be more in line with the other two classes.

Now, when I thought about this, I went to and did the math. Fully raid buffed, Alixander has around 1551 Stamina, and 30% of that is 465 spell damage. To make clear, right now I have 446 spell damage. Pretty much, if this talent was already in the game, I wouldn't need a spell damage weapon, or a spell damage shield or any gear with any spell damage on it at all. I could focus on Stamina, avoidance, Block Value, +hit and expertise just like Warriors do.

Now, another way of seeing things is with this talent one could stack even more spell damage than before and be a veritable beast of threat generation, but there's more to this change than meets the eye. I can't detail it yet, but once I get to the final talent, all will be made clear. Simply put, this changes the entire setup of Protection Paladins everywhere, meaning a start over from the ground up and I'm behind it 100%.

Oh yeah, and so I don't forget it, the bonus to crit heals is a wonderful addition to hybridization of Protection Paladins, allowing them to easily assist with healing if needed. Plus the bonus Spell Power when a Prot Paladin is wearing Spell Power plate to heal with will be simply fantastic.

Avenger's Shield: Rank 5 - 1745 Mana - 30 yd range - 0.5 sec cast - 30 sec cooldown - Requires Shields - Hurls a holy shield at the enemy, dealing 705 to 861 Holy damage, Dazing them and then jumping to additional nearby enemies. Affects 3 total targets. Lasts 10 sec.

Again, like Holy Shield, Avenger's Shield had it's damage range improved to make up for the loss of JotC. In addition AS had it's daze duration expanded from 6 seconds to 10, and it's casting time lowered from 1 second to .5 seconds meaning it could more easily be used in PvP, to snare runners, or to recast mid-combat for a quick threat boost. All around good changes here, IMO.

Guarded by the Light: Whenever you parry or dodge an attack you have a 10/20% chance to reduce the mana cost of your next Consecration, Holy Wrath or Avenger's Shield spell by 25/50%.

A wonderful talent for Prot Paladins tasked to tank multiple mobs at one time. With more and more mobs it means a greater chance to parry or dodge. This translates to having Guarded by the Light proc very frequently. Considering how often a AOE tanking Paladin will be dropping Consecration, and how costly the ability is, this is simply amazing! A must-have for any raiding Prot Paladin.

Tier 10:
Shield of the Templar: Increases the damage and reduces the mana cost of your Holy Shield, Avenger's Shield and Shield of Righteousness spells by 5/10/15%.

Quite a helpful talent, improving single target and group threat generation along with allowing better mana efficiency, which is quite a problem once you overgear an encounter. While this talent isn't a must-have, it's certainly well worth the investment.

Judgements of the Just: Your Judgement spells also reduce the melee attack speed of the target by 10/20%.

Another of the longstanding problems for Prot Paladins is that it's not an illusion... we do take more damage normally, than warriors. At first many said it was the difference between Defensive Stance and Improved RF (10% damage reduction vs. 6%), but that wouldn't account for the numbers we would see.

Eventually one of our own put it together: Thunder Clap and Improved Thunder Clap. It would give a slowing effect of 20% to all white attacks from raid bosses. This would account for around 10-15% less damage a Warrior would see than a Paladin who didn't have a Warrior dropping TC on their bosses. And it was a problem for DPSing Warriors, because TC is not available in Berserker stance, meaning a Warrior would need to hop over to Battle, and do TC every 30 seconds, then hop back. Or even worse, do the entire battle in Battle Stance, which meant more threat and less damage. Of course, not to mention that TC would generate additional threat, which Warriors do not have a way to dump.

Well now those days are over. With Judgements of the Just, a Paladin can get the same slowing effects that a Warrior has without forcing a Warrior to be in Battle Stance. While Thunder Clap is still the better option when slowing down large groups of players, this talent allows us to do it on our own. Another use is if a Protection Paladin is DPSing and a Warrior is tanking, the Warrior won't have to waste rage on TC, if the Protection Paladin is keeping a Judgement up.

Tier 11:
Hammer of the Righteous: 6% of base mana - 5 yd range - Instant cast - 6 sec cooldown - Requires One-Handed Melee Weapon - Hammer the current target and up to 2 additional nearby targets, causing 100% of weapon damage as Holy damage. This ability causes high threat.

This is the final piece of the puzzle we need to show exactly the extent of the changes Blizzard is intending for Protection Paladins in WotLK. The first piece was really Guarded by the Light, which showed a method for Protection Paladins to still use Consecration, Exorcism, Holy Wrath, Holy Shield, and Avenger's Shield effectively without a lot of Spell Power.

The second piece was Seal of the Martyr being made available to the Alliance, meaning both factions would have a Seal that procced on every swing and dealt Holy Damage based off weapon damage. This means both sides can get away with using high damage weapons and STR instead of needing to use Spell Power weapons.

Thirdly was Divine Strength being put in the Protection tree and not the Retribution tree. When I first saw this, it made little sense, but once I put the pieces together, I very much understood Blizzard's goal.

The final piece was this ability. A Protection-only Holy Damage ability which used white damage and not Spell Power as a base. To properly get maximum mileage out of this talent, one needs to have a lot of STR, and a high damage weapon.

One of my only real issues with being a Protection Paladin was that while I was a front-liner, swinging my weapon to help my allies, the actual swinging of my weapon always felt hollow. I was only using a sword or a hammer because it allowed my spells to do more damage. Now that's no longer true. In WotLK, Protection Paladins will use high DPS tanking swords and swing them to do damage, not just to have their seals proc.

In the end, I believe Blizzard's goal is for Protection Paladins to move away from Spell Power weapons and plate, and to embrace high STA weapons and armor that also have +hit, +expertise, avoidance stats, and STR on them. This is looking like what they also intend for Warrior and Death Knight tanks. Simply put, there will only be one setup for a plate wearing tank, instead of having one set for each class. Maybe there will be some Spell Power on the tiered set, but that will be all. Other than the Paladin Tiered set (and maybe not even there), expect Prot Paladins to stack STR and STA as their two core stats.

Personal note: With all this explained, I can also say that one of the reasons I was looking forward to DK tanking was it was a tank that used it's weapon for damage and not just for spell casting. With these changes in Protection Paladin tanking, I'm not sure if I will swap my DK to my main anymore. I'll still try it out, but in the end I'm just not sure. Instead I'll try both and see how it comes out. I'm very excited by these changes and can't wait to see them in-game.

The next part I'm going to touch on either new abilities I haven't mentioned before, or changes to existing abilities that I didn't mention in my review of the talents.

Avenging Wrath: 8% of base mana - Instant cast - 3 min cooldown - Increases all damage and healing caused by 20% for 20 sec.

First thing almost every Paladin will notice is that Avenging Wrath no longer causes Forbearance. This is not a typo, Blizzard did change this. As a counterbalance to that, they also lowered the percent bonus from 30% to 20%. While this is a bummer, it's well worth it to me, because it means that we can use it every time it's up and not worry about when we use Divine Shield. Also, Avenging Wrath has been changed to also increase healing as well as damage by 20% when it's used. Holy Paladins now have a reason to have this on their quick bar. Finally, with AW not causing Forbearance, a PvP Paladin can pop wings, then bubble themselves and not have to worry about it being stolen or purged. This is a great day for Paladins of every spec.

Sacred Shield: 35 Mana - 40 yd range - Instant cast - Each time the target takes damage they gain a Sacred Shield, absorbing 500 damage. They cannot gain this effect more than once every 6 seconds.

A level 80 Holy Paladin spell (non-talented), the details on this are really sketchy. Duration? Can it be cast on multiple targets? Does it scale with Spell Power? Can it be cast on self (for Protection Paladins)? All of these are unknown. But it looks interesting, eh?

Hammer of Wrath: - Rank 6 - 615 Mana - 30 yd range - 0.5 sec cast - 6 sec cooldown - Hurls a hammer that strikes an enemy for 1140 to 1260 Holy damage. Only usable on enemies that have 35% or less health.

Interesting to note that the health range that Hammer of Wrath can be used upon has been expanded from 20% to 35%. What is even more interesting is that the same treatment has not been given to Execute or any other talents or abilities which target "weakened" enemies.

Turn Evil: 9% of base mana - 20 yd range - 1.5 sec cast - The targeted undead or demon enemy will be compelled to flee for up to 20 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect. Only one target can be turned at a time.

Interesting not because it's changed (other than the mana cost), but because it's available at 24, when you get the original version of Turn Undead, which only works for 10 seconds. Maybe they will add more ranks later, but right now there's only a single rank that works on Demons and Undead and causesthem to flee for 20 seconds.

Worthwhile addendum: If you use Judgement of Justice then Turn Evil on a demon or undead they will just stand there, unable to flee, but unable to fight. Enjoy.

Seal of Wisdom: 14% of base mana - Instant cast - Fills the Paladin with divine wisdom for 30 sec, giving each melee attack a chance to restore some of the Paladin's mana. Only one Seal can be active on the Paladin at any one time.

Unleashing this Seal's energy will judge an enemy for 20 sec, granting attacks and spells used against the judged enemy a chance to restore mana to the attacker. Your melee strikes will refresh the spell's duration. Only one Judgement per Paladin can be active at any one time.

Seal of Light: 14% of base mana - Instant cast - Fills the Paladin with divine light for 30 sec, giving each melee attack a chance to heal the Paladin. Only one Seal can be active on the Paladin at any one time.

Unleashing this Seal's energy will damage an enemy and grant melee attacks made against the judged enemy a chance of healing the attacker. Your melee strikes will refresh the spell's duration. Only one Judgement per Paladin can be active at any one time.

Seals of Light and Wisdom are both no longer given multiple ranks, and are being reduced to percent of base mana costs. While is true for every other Seal, Seals of Light and Wisdom get special notice because this could signify a change in how they work. It's a probable guess that their base mana and health recovered will scale with level, but they could also possibly scale with the caster's Spell Power, meaning that as the caster becomes more powerful, so will the Seals and Judgements. A nice possibility.

Also worth touching on is that all of the damaging seals are also getting this treatment. Seals and Judgements of Righteousness, Command, Blood, Vengeance, the Martyr, and Corruption all appear to now scale with level and Spell Power or Weapon Damage. It will be nice to always have a Seal be as powerful as it can be with every level. This will make leveling a Paladin much easier.

Righteous Defense: 40 yd range - Instant - 15 sec cooldown - Come to the defense of a friendly target, commanding up to 3 enemies attacking the target to attack the Paladin instead.

None of the actual mechanics of the spell have changed, but Blizzard was nice enough to realize that this is our only taunt, and despite it being multi-target, having it cost mana is just stupid, considering that Bears and Warriors don't need to pay rage for Taunt or Growl. Thank you Blizzard for not making Paladins have to pay for what should have been a free ability from the get go.


The last portion will be for some prospective talent builds that could be used in WotLK once we're all 80.

Raiding Holy/Ret: 56/0/15:
With the usual gamut of talents in the Holy tree, but picking up the awesome tag-team combo of Enlightened Judgements and Judgements of the Pure means that Benediction is a must-have. And with Conviction now giving a crit bonus to spells and melee, it's a welcome addition, boosting a Holy Paladin's crit up an additional 5%. While one could pick up Improved Judgements, since the primary reason to get Judgements of the Pure is for the haste buff, which lasts 30 seconds.

Raiding Holy/Prot: 54/17/0:
This talent gives up some of the additional offensive and critting options of the Holy/Ret build to have increased survivability and more raid-wide utility through Divine Guardian and Blessing of Kings. Optionally one can drop three points from somewhere to pick up Improved Devotion Aura for those in the back row, since otherwise it will mostly be gotten by Protection Paladins and if you're either lacking one or too far away, it would be a nice boost to healing.

PvP Holy: 51/20/0:
Beacon of Light is an amazing PvE spell, but is much more lacking in PvP where it could be easily dispelled, wasting mana and cast time. Instead by focusing more on survivability and offense, PvP Holy Paladins can support their allies and defend themselves as needed. The addition of Enlightened Judgements to the Holy tree gives Holy Paladins a effective new offensive option at their disposal.

Shockadin: 53/0/18:
Many of the changes to the Holy tree have turned it from a gimmicky PvP DPSer into the real deal. The obvious addition of Enlightened Judgements combined with Holy Shock's damage version range means a Shockadin no longer needs to approach their target to do maximum damage. Judgement of Righteousness plus Holy Shock, with enough Spell Power will be a potent combo at a 20 yard range.

Main Tank Prot/Ret: 0/59/12:
This build focuses on survivability and threat generation. While there are some other talents I could pick up, like Anticipation or Pursuit of Justice, I chose to aim for where I did since I believe it's the most effective use of my available talents. It also keeps it's options broad in that it can effectively AOE tank and Single-Target tank.

Main Tank Prot/Holy: 17/54/0:
This one sacrifices survival and threat generation to have greater healing potential when they aren't needed to tank bosses. By picking up Healing Light, Illumination, and Improved Lay on Hands, a Paladin can vastly improve his healing potential without crippling his survival and threat generation (the loss of the 5% parry in tBC was really hard to make up for when being uncrushable was a concern).

Off-Tank Prot: 0/59/12:
Despite the same numbers in each talent tree as Main Tank Prot/Ret, this build is fairly different. With the addition of more single-target non-reactive threat generating abilities Prot Paladins can more easily fill the role of Off-tank without relying on Mana Pots. This build sacrifices some of the major single-target damage reduction talents to pick up more avoidance (to work with Guarded by the Light) for when they are tasked to off-tank multiple adds (a common setup in bigger raids). It doesn't sacrifice anything in threat generation, so it will be able to keep up in that regard.

AOE grinding Prot/Ret: 0/54/17:
This spec is for a 5-man tank that has great potential for AOE grinding. Reckoning is amazing when you have low avoidance (i.e. prior to starting to raid) and Guarded by the Light will make it easier than ever to take on large amounts of enemies for easy money.

PvP Prot: 20/51/0:
PvP Prot? What? Well, between vastly expanding Prot's DD options and making it more healer friendly with Touched by the Light, Prot has had the potential of being a PvP spec added to it. Avenger's Shield has always been a powerful option in PvP, made moreso by it's lowered cast time and increased daze duration. Hammer of the Righteous will be a powerful tool since it's damage is based weapon damage, but it's damage is Holy thus not mitigated by armor. Shield of Righteousness will be no slacker either with it being Holy Damage as well. While maybe not as powerful as Ret, it will make up for it with a high amount of survivability.

Deep Ret Raiding: 0/7/64:
Picking up almost every worthwhile talent in the Ret tree, this build can put out some amazing damage with a some nice extra utility. It may lack some utility that other Ret builds will have from the other trees, but it's damage is second to none for Paladins. Also, this applies to all Raiding Ret trees: I don't take Seal of Command because Seal of Blood/the Martyr will probably be better.

Raiding Ret/Prot OT: 0/19/52:
What this talent build lacks in damage and utility, it makes up by being able to easily switch roles and provide Blessing of Kings. By taking Shield Specialization, a Ret Paladin will be able to strongly boost the power of Shield of Righteousness, and picking up Toughness will allow them to maximize their survivability when tanking.

Raiding Ret/Holy: 20/0/51:
Moving the previously stated talent points from Prot to Holy deprives a Ret of the nice STR boost of 15%, but opens up a lot more healing possibilities. Illumination is the cornerstone of any Paladin's healing arsenal, giving unmatched longevity. Divine Intellect will boost the mana pool of the Retribution Paladin, making him able to last longer in some of the more lengthy fights.

PvP Ret: 10/10/51:
Picking up key PvP talents up through the Ret tree, it goes deep enough into both the Holy and Prot tree to get some nice talents there. From the Holy tree it grabs Spiritual Focus and Healing Light for some quick healing when needed, and Unyielding Faith to decrease the power of enemy Fears. From the Prot tree, Divine Strength's acquisition was obvious, and Stoicism and Guardian's Favor bring strong benefits to any Arena or Battleground.

PvP Ret/Prot: 0/20/51:
Dropping the talents in the Holy tree, this build dives deeper into the Prot tree to get Improved Hammer of Justice and Divine Guardian. Imp HoJ is very standard fare for a PvP Paladin, doubling (or more depending on the set bonuses from the PvP sets) the amount of times per minute that they can use HoJ. Divine Guardian has great potential in PvP since it can allow a lightly clothed player to survive a barrage by one group as the Ret Paladin runs through the enemy front-line unopposed behind his or her bubble.


Of course the talent builds I listed aren't the only options, nor are any of the changes I've talked about final. But this should give you an idea of some of the changes in store for Paladins of all shapes and sizes. I know I'm excited about them.


Oh yeah, and a minor note that doesn't deserve it's own post: According to Wowhead, Death and Decay has been made an instant cast. I'm pleased as Punch.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What the bloody hell...?

Okay, I'm sure right about now everyone's wondering what in seven hells happened to me. "Kaziel!" you might say, "You said you'd be back to making regular posts now that you had a new job. It's been two *honk*ing months, and you've only posted three things, and nothing in the last month!" You would be right, and for this I am somewhat apologetic. I'm sorry because I've had a bunch of ideas popping around in my mind, but I've been too busy with other stuff to work on my Blog. While I'm not going to say I'm back, I am going to try to post a little more frequently. You see, my previous job kinda fell through (rather not talk about it) so since I had little reason to stay in Washington DC and a ton of reasons to leave and go to California, I did. For approximately the last month I've been prepping and moving from there to here, and here I finally am, happy and content if not a little (read: A LOT) hot.

Side note: If you're wondering why I titled my post like I was born in England, I have not, in fact, lost my mind. Instead have been watching too much Zero Punctuation, a brilliant and scathing review show by an Englishman living in Australia. While it rarely touches MMOs (or as he calls them "Mumorpugers" which seems like an ideal way to describe MMOs if you hate them), everything else is amazingly funny, in some cases making me laugh so hard I simultaneously cried and snorted (yes, snorted). If you are unfamiliar with a given show, give it a gander over at the Wikipedia then dive right in.

Anyway, as for the huge Death Knight post I was planning on writing, to hell with that. While there is a ton of useful information out there about Death Knights, all of it's changing so often, I might as well try to describe the crashing of the waves onto a beach for you.

There are only really three things worth posting about for Death Knights.

First is Death Grip, which has a forty-five second cooldown. My initial response to reading this was "Good god, Blizzard, you want Death Knights to suck at tanking, don't you?" This was until I learned of Blood Boil, an AOE taunt on a 15 second cooldown (reduceable to 11 seconds with talents) with no rune costs. All it requires is the target to have a disease on them (which of course is actually a lot harder than that sounds, since almost all diseases costs runes). Anyway, so we have, really, two taunts, it just has a small requirement (make sure you have an unholy rune), and it's great. Huzzah!

Second is how utterly and completely useless Death and Decay will be for almost anything other than occasionally doing AOE DPS. First off, whoever translated that bit on it having a fear effect needs to find a tall building, weigh themselves down and then throw themselves off of said building into rush-hour traffic. It does not have a fear effect, it has a stun effect as it has a (and I quote) "...chance to cause any affected to cower in fear." ... Cower. Not be feared, but cower in fear. I can only assume that the person who translated this to be reported to all the sites that reported the previous information has never actually played WoW. This is the only possible way such a horrible mistranslation could have gotten through

Now, this was great news when I found it out. It's like thinking you are getting piss in a cup, and finding out you are actually getting finely aged, couple-hundred dollar red wine. Unfortunately the other shoe must drop. What appeared to be a Grade-A Prime Rib steak to go with your piss-in-a-cup actually turns out to be moldy, rotted slice of roast beef to go with your amazing cup of red wine.

So, the other shoe that dropped. Death and Decay is on a 30 second cooldown with a 10 second duration. So 2 times a minute you can do some nifty-ish AOE damage to some things, but not very often, and it's ridiculously costly (one rune of each type currently). Now all of this would have just made it an "ehh" ability, but quite useful in PvP or tanking. But no, Blizzard can't allow that to happen. Instead we get a 30 second cooldown, 10 second duration and a 1.5 second cast time. I want to scream bloody murder. Cast times are almost universally a no-no in PvP, and a smart and/or lucky player will interrupt your Death and Decay, not only making you lose the spell, but cripping half or more of your repertoire. And cast times are even worse when tanking since it will mean you are getting a face full of "OH GOD IT HURTS!"

I mean, if Blizzard was really against Death and Decay not being able to be used on the move (which I don't get at all, but that's neither here nor there), give it a 0.5 second cast time. No on-the-move uses, but it's hard to interrupt and usable for AOE tanking, which is vitally necessary in todays age of Paladin Consecration tanks, which mean all 5-mans must have 50 hojillion trash mobs. As of currently, Death Knights are quite lacking in the AOE department (an intentional design, I believe, but with the game's current state of affairs, caused by the almost juggernaut-like abilities Paladins bring to trash mobs, it's a painful situation for most non-Paladin tanks.

The third point, on the other hand, is a gleeful jaunt down Awesome Avenue, making a stop a the train station, to ride the Amazing Train to Wonderful-ville. I've seen Death Knight tanking trees, and that leak, or whatever it was that I edited into my previous Death Knight post has been changed. It was correct then, but Blizzard said "Nah, let's do something else!" and something else is fantastic! There is no tanking tree. Now, I'm sure this is the point where everyone looks at me and thinks I've gone off my rocker, but I haven't. It doesn't mean that Death Knights aren't tanks. They are still as tanky as all the rest of the classes, but the various tanking talents are spread out to each tree. The Blood Tree is still the "Hit things hard" tree, the Unholy tree is still the disease/summon tree, but now the Frost tree is the "Crowd Control" tree (more like the Mage's Frost tree, which will probably make it more of the cookie-cutter PvP spec than the Unholy tree...). An example is a talent-ability requiring 25 points in the Unholy tree:

Bone Armor: Instant cast, 30 second cooldown. The caster is surrounded by 4 swirling bones. Each bone reduces the damage from the next spell or melee attack by 40% but is then consumed. Lasts 5 min.

While this obviously has PvP and soloing potential, the biggest potential I see for it is to a tank. In equal measure is the talent "Will of the Necropolis" which is basically a three rankArdent Defender, with 6 Expertise at max rank. Now, before anyone starts bitching that it's unfair that they get this talent when we have to buy that effect in two talents, it's much deeper in the Blood tree (yes this one's in the Blood tree) than either of the two talents which give a similar effect to Paladins.

In the simplest way to phrase it, you are not pigeonholed into a particular playstyle, if you want to tank. You can be a Blood tank, an Unholy Tank, or a Frost tank, and all three of them have unique and valuable talents which help in that goal. I've seen some complain about not having all the talents consolidated into one place where they can just min-max them all to hell and back, but screw them. I like it this way. Something new, different and AWESOME! Gimme variety. Screw cookie-cutter one-design tanking builds. Hooray individuality!


Also a vital note mostly unrelated to Death Knights, but entirely related to WotLK and tanking, is that Blizzard does appear to be removing Crushing Blows from the raiding, with some interesting changes on the horizon for Warriors. Shield block goes from what it was to this:

Shield Block: Increases your chance to block and the amount blocked by 100% for 5 sec, but will only block 1 attack. 30 sec cooldown.

With Improved Shield Block only decreasing the cooldown by 5/10 seconds, and NOT increasing the amount of charges Shield Block has. Simply put there will be no way to reach uncrushable for early endgame, which clearly means they are intending on removing crushing blows from level 80+ raiding (CBs may still exist for previous raids, but the additional levels and gear quality should make those hits feel like we're being tickled.) This explains the lack of an Anti-CB ability for Death Knights, and makes me much more relived about the potential imbalance I was seeing.
This, of course, creates another imbalance in the form of Dire Bear form with it's billions of health and armor, and no crushing blows to equalize the difference. As of right now, Bears still have those ridiculous modifiers and, unless Blizzard gets on the ball before release, will reign supreme come raid-time (or even in 5-mans) in WotLK. Good job Blizzard.

There are some complaints about this, beyond the obvious one of how they are going to balance Druids. This one boggled my damned mine when I heard it, but according to an endgame raiding Holy Priest, Crushing Blows create a sense of challenge and randomness to encounters that would otherwise be lacking from a healing perspective. ... I'm not kidding here folks. I had this conversation on my guild's Vent channel one night while we were doing Ahune. I was almost positive that my ears were failing me, but they were not. Ignoring the fact that Crushing Blows create a ridiculous obstacle for entry-level Paladins to overcome to just stand on equal footing with Warriors and Bears (can you tell I'm still bitter about that?), but once they get on equal footing, the other two classes are left behind by Paladins 8 charges every 10 seconds of uncrushability, making them less desirable in many fights. Oh and of course if you have a connection speed that is less than perfect, kiss your dreams of being a raiding MT goodbye, because you're now on a one-way ride to crushable-town.

Oh and here's a petty personal prediction: Now that Holy Shield will not be needed to even survive in raids, I predict that it will be made a baseline ability. Blow me, Blizzard.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Quick update

Working on another long Death Knight post, but in the mean time, two weekends ago (on the 24th) my guild did our first real foray into Zul'Aman (unlike our previous attempt) . We had a few issues with the learning attempts on both bosses (DON'T RUN FROM THE EAGLE UNTIL AFTER THE STORM IS OVER!), and apparently there are some issues with me taunting the Bear boss off of our other tank, but we still managed to walk away with the first two ZA bosses down! Woot! Got the Off-Hand fist weapon from Nalorakk and the healing neck from Akil'zon.

And last weekend I was traveling, and wasn't getting back until almost midnight Sunday, so my guild had to make due without me. It was a bit slower, and they only cleared the mandatory bosses in Kara up to Chess, but still it's good considering that I'm definitely the best geared tank. Plus this allowed others to practice MT roles which is something I usually end up doing for speed's sake.

Been a while since I updated what was going on in my guild so I figured I would.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Well I was going to do a number-cruncher post...

...but then Blizzard decided to drop an info-bomb on us in the form of WotLK info.

EDIT: As of 4:10 PM, May 20th, Blizzard has put out new info on Death Knights. I've slightly changed my final analysis of Death Knights because of that.

For original sources and additional pictures check out these posts at MMO-Champion and WoWInsider:
MMO-Champion WotLK preview Part 1
MMO-Champion WotLK preview Part 2
WoWInsider Death Knight preview
Also make sure to check out the awesome trailer that Boubouille put together (at the bottom of both MMO-Champion posts).

I'll pick out the bits which are interesting to me. The first part is entirely Death Knight centric (shocking, I know...)
All players with a level 55 character will be able to create one Death Knight per realm, per account.
Okay, the fact that it started at a lower level than 80 or even 70 is old news to me, but now we have a hard number. Honestly 55 works for me. That gives a player time to play around in the "Old World" before going to Outland and learn a bit about the class.

Though the "one Death Knight per real, per account" thing comes as a bit of a surprise. Not that it changes much for many players, since most people don't play the same class twice, but still. At least this will stop people from making nothing but Death Knights for any alts they want to make after the first DK.

Spent runes automatically refresh after a set period of time, much like a Rogue's energy bar.
This falls into the category of things I expected. Even then, seeing it confirmed is a nice. This also means that, unlike Warriors and Paladins, for tanking Death Knights will not be needing to be punched in the face to effectively generate threat. I'm liking it already.

Death Knights also have a secondary resource called Runic Power generated by using your rune abilities. It will use the same mechanics as rage and increase when you deal damage, or slowly decrease if you're not using it.

Death Knights will have a lot of abilities that cost all available Runic Power with varying levels of effectiveness based on total Runic Power spent. (Same mechanics as Execute for warriors, or finishing moves for Rogues)
This one was unexpected, but not altogether unwelcome. Based upon this and later information this is merely fuel for an ability to be powerful or not, and not something used to power the ability itself. For example, it's like a Rogue's finishing moves. You still need energy (the runes) to use the ability, but the combo points (Runic Power) decides it's strength. Since this is a power you build up by dealing damage or using rune abilities I would have been worried about our reliance on it for tanking, but it seems to be more for DPSing. Either way, it's just additional fuel instead of the ignition for abilities so I'm not too concerned.

Death Knights will have spells equivalent to auras called "Presence", providing them with powerful self-buffs depending on their role in the group. (One for tanking, one for damage dealing, etc ...)
I'm a bit leery about this one from a tanks perspective. This sounds distinctly like how RF works, as far as buffing yourself, which would mean I would need to rebuff myself after a fight. I hope not. On the other hand, if it's an Aura-like effect hopefully it won't wear off like RF does, which will be a huge step in the right direction.

Also the fact that there is a Presence for DPSing means that Death Knights have more fluidity than Paladins and can more easily swap from a Tank to a DPS role which is a big complaint I have about Paladin tanking. I'm pleased about this bit.

An instant lifedrain spell (described as death coil without the fear component) will be available.
There is no way this will not have a long cooldown. Do not expect drain tanking. While I could be wrong, I really, really doubt it.

Death Knights will be the first class to use diseases as a source of damage, with abilities that become strong depending on how many diseases are already applied to the target.
This one is interesting in a "current class" way. In PvP, against Shaman, Paladins and Priests (or people with those classes on their side) Death Knights will lose a vital ability set. Since Death Knights rely on runes, thus probably can't spam abilities and use mana, rage or energy like other classes, one cleansed Disease can be crippling. This will mean that Death Knights need to be even more cognizant of what other classes they are fighting against than most of the other classes.

(MMO-C)"Army of the Dead" will spawn numerous undead minions to attack nearby hostiles targets.

(WoWI)Army of the Dead: This ability will temporarily summon a small army of Undead that will fight for you. It will apparently be channeled, which makes me think it will be closer to an AE attack like a Druid's Hurricane than an actual pet ability.
At first glance I was thinking of this ability as the Death Knight counterpart to Force of Nature. But the channeling part has me going "WTF?" It's use while Tanking or PvP is completely out. Maybe it will be cool, but I really dislike the Channeling part. We'll see.

(MMO-C)Death Knights will also revive an enemy (or ally) as a ghoul to use it as a pet with its own special abilities like a disease-inflicting strike and a stun.
When an ally is risen as a ghoul, a pop-up will appear and this ally will have the choice to control the ghoul if he wants to.

(MMO-C)Raise Dead -- Raises a nearby corpse to fight for the Death Knight for 2 minutes. If used on a player corpse, the player has the option to play as the ghoul for the duration -- gaining access to the ghoul's abilities.
The ghoul has the ability to do the following:
  • Leap to the target
  • Rend for decent damage-over-time
  • Stun target, and of course more

(WoWI)Raise Dead: This will raise an actual nearby corpse, including one of a fallen ally (even in Arenas) to fight for you as a Ghoul. An ally so resurrected will have the option to control their character as a Ghoul. Ghouls will get abilities to cause diseases, stun, and fear among other things, but it seems like they will be temporary pets all the same - at least, I assume PCs will eventually be allowed to resurrect rather than stay slaves of the Death Knight.
This ability sounds absolutely amazing! It's inevitable that an ally will die in some raid fight or in an Arena. If you don't have a druid, or if you are saving a combat rez for someone more important than a DPSer, you can get them up as a Ghoul where they can assist in the fight once more, even if it's only for a limited time. Plus a number of fights require people moving around, and ordering your pet around is rarely fast enough to remove them from all the danger. By having a player control your "pet", it will make it more useful.

The Death Knight's particular niche will be in tanking magic-damage-dealing bosses. They will have an ability much like a banshee's anti-magic shell, greatly diminishing the amount of incoming magic damage they'll receive in combat.

Anti-magic Shield -- Reduces the damage of the next magical spell cast on the Death Knight by 75%. It also converts the damage reduced into Runic Power.
This is awesome because it really is a much needed niche. While Warriors currently have spell reflect, it's their only real method of reducing incoming spell damage, and has a small window of time to cast it to properly reflect (and is next to useless against mobs and bosses with instant-cast spells). While there aren't many details on Anti-magic Shield, I expect it to have a longer duration and/or lower cooldown than Spell Reflect, allowing them to be excellent anti-magic tanks.

Death Coil -- Depletes all Runic Power, dealing 600 damage to a non-Undead target, or healing 900 damage on a friendly target.

Since this depletes Runic Power, I expect how much it hurts or heals to be dependent on how much Runic Power you have. This one is much Holy Shock, which could be a good thing healing ability, but will most likely be used as an offensive spell.

Death Grip -- This is the Death Knight's "taunt" ability. It also pulls the target to the Death Knight, forcing them to attack the Death Knight for a short amount of time. Yes, I said pulls the target; Blizzard is going to allow players to move mobs in the expansion both with Death Grip, and other knockback/pull abilities. This works on players too, so PvP balance ahoy!
I'm going to ignore the PvP implications, even though they are absolutely huge(!), and instead focus on the PvE side of things. This ability will make Death Knights amazing anti-caster tanks by being able to pull casters to exactly where they want them, instead of having to rely on LOS pulls. Hopefully it will not have a long cooldown, like Righteous Defender, and possibly have a talent that will reduce it's cooldown, much like Improved Taunt for Warriors.

Chains of Ice -- Roots the target in place. When the spell fades, it places a snare on the target that reduces in potency as the duration runs out.
This one isn't particularly noteworthy in and of itself, but there's some history behind the ability named Chains of Ice. Back in the original WoW beta, Mages had an ability like this, or similar. The fact that I can gain access to an ability I was denied makes me smile. I would imagine the existence of this ability relates to the limitations of the rune system.

This points even more to a respectably long cooldown on each rune (around 10-12 seconds for a full recharge). I would imagine that, generally speaking, there won't be small cooldowns on the common abilities of a Death Knight (beyond global cooldowns) since the class will be far more limited by what runes are available and not what cooldowns are up. This is a huge difference from Paladins where mana only becomes a problem in certain circumstances, and the class is far more limited to if an ability is still on cooldown. Will require some getting used to.

Death Pact -- Sacrifices the raised ghouls to heal the Death Knight.
When I first read this, my brain through it referred to Army of the Dead, until I read the bit about AotD being Channeled. So now I think it applies to the Raise Dead ability. But if that's the case, why phrase it as "ghouls" instead of "ghoul"? Hmmm...

Death and Decay -- Targeted, AoE Damage-over-time which pulses similar to the Paladin spell Consecration. Anyone affected by Death and Decay has a chance to be feared.
I'm looking at this and thinking: PvP spell. Yeah, it will have uses in PvE, but the fearing aspect means potential adds, which is never cool. Otherwise a fun looking ability!

Frost Presence -- Increases Armor by 45% and allows the Death Knight to generate 25% more threat. Only one presence can be active at any time.
Two very important bits of information here. First off is the increase to threat generated across the board, instead of focused. To clarify, when I say "focused" I'm referring to how Paladins get a large bonus to threat generated by Holy damage, but no threat modifier to any other type of damage. Death Knights are more like Warriors or Bears in that anything they do will generate additional threat.

While the large focused bonus Paladins get is nice, it's also limiting. First off, approximately 15-20% of a Paladin's total damage is from normal melee attacks, which get no threat modifier on them. In addition, any bonus damage from gear or buffs that's not Holy (Thorns for example) gets no modifier to it. If a Paladin is fighting a mob that has some sort of Silence (Maiden of Virtue) or has a mana burn/drain, it makes it a lot more challenging since they could have a period where they are only generating a very little amount of threat.

With Death Knights having a +25% threat modifier applied to everything, including normal melee attacks, that means when they can't use abilities for whatever reason, they are still generating a good amount of threat. This is a huge positive for them to me.

The second portion which is interesting is the armor modifier. Doing some quick math, Alixander has 16,469 armor current. I used Warcrafter and got how much armor he has without his shield, which is 11,137. 45% of that number is 5,012 armor, which would mean an equally equipped Death Knight would have only 16,149 armor. So Frost Presence makes up for the Death Knight's lack of a shield, right? Everything's even between Warriors/Paladins and Death Knights, right?

Not really. First issue: Shields scale faster than the rest of your tanking gear. Wearing my mix of Kara and BoJ purples, it's about even, but looking at Lore's Warcrafter info, it doesn't. He has 19,258 armor, and his shield accounts for 6,459 of it. Removing the shield leaves him at 12,153 armor, of which an additional 45% would only give him 17,622 armor. So at lower gear levels, 45% would probably put Death Knights ahead, but as gear continues to improve, shields will pull ahead and Death Knights will be left behind. Though in truth the difference betwen 19,258 and 17,622 is pretty minor. Maybe only 1-2% damage, so this may be a case of mountain making out of molehills.

The area where this will be a major inconvenience is Crushing Blows. A Druid lacks the ability to become uncrushable and just plows his way through them by having tons of health and tons of armor. Warriors and Paladins use their shields to increase their avoidance to 102.4% thus negating crushing blows. Death Knights appear to have neither of these. I'm hoping that they will get either a talent that negates crushing blows when Frost Presence is active, or a spell that allows them to somehow avoid crushing blows, otherwise Death Knights will not be viable raid tanks.

(MMO-C)Unholy Presence -- Increases Attack Speed and Movement speed by 15%. Only one presence can be active at any time. This was described by Tom Chilton as the "PvP" presence.
(WoWI)Unholy Presence will provide increased attack speed and decreased global cooldown, and is being billed as the PvP presence.

I'll be honest... this makes me happy in my pants. I like the way this looks, and having a "PvP" stance will be pretty sweet. Allows for much more flexibility in my class without needing an entirely different set of gear (though I will have another gear set too), something sorely lacking in Paladins.

Blood Presence - DPS. Increases DPS and heals the DK slightly when attacked.
This will be the solo/DPS Presence. The first part is obvious, and the second part is primarily for when soloing. I like it. Also, if this Presence doesn't have a threat down modifier, then it will be a good Tanking Presence for 5-mans once you reach Raid-gear levels. One can hope...

Strangulate -- Depletes all Runic Power, dealing minor damage and silencing the target for up to 5 seconds.
I'm guessing the duration of this ability will be directly connected to how much Runic Power you have. Will it suffer from DR? Reserving judgment on this one until we get more details.

Blade Strike: Attacks the target and applies a disease.

Blood Strike: Deals Damage based on how many diseases are on the target.
Complimentary abilities. Looks nice. I expect both to work via Blood Runes.

Mind Freeze - Interrupts spell casting.
Hello! Guessing a Frost Rune spell, wonder what the cooldown and duration will look like.

That's it for the DK related stuff.


EDIT: Oh wait. Blizzard decided to clarify stuff for me

Talent Trees

Death knight talent trees are complemented by Presences -- self-only auras that benefit the death knight. Selecting the matching Presence for each tree augments the class abilities for that school of magic.

  • Blood: Talents in this tree focus on damage-dealing abilities. Blood Presence increases damage output by a percentage.
  • Frost: Talents in this tree focus on tanking abilities. Frost Presence increases threat and lowers damage taken by a percentage.
  • Unholy: Talents in this tree have a variety of functions including summons, diseases, and PvP-focused abilities. Unholy Presence increases attack speed and reduces the global cooldown on death knight abilities.

So... there we go! Each Talent tree is confirmed to be matched to one of the three runes, while they clarify what each rune does, which varied widely depending on your source. I'd heard everything from Blood is for tanking, Frost is for tanking, and Unholy is for tanking over the course of the last few months. It's good to hear something concrete.

Looking at the what Blizzard says each Rune will do, I'm thinking that I would use something like a 3xFrost, 2xBlood, 1xUnholy setup, or possibly a 4xFrost, 1xBlood, 1xUnholy. I'll have to see and experiment, but I know I won't have less than 3 Frost Runes while tanking.

They have also officially confirmed that Army of the Dead will be channeled, and unless it's Channeled and uninterruptable, it sounds like a PvE DPS ability only. Boo.

Anyway, yay for official info! And I'm much happier knowing I'll be a Frost-Spec Death Knight.


Now onto other cool info:

All raid dungeons in Wrath of the Lich King will have both 10-person and 25-person versions. So at level 80, every major encounter and every big boss fight can be experienced with a group of 10.

25-person raiding progression is not dependent on 10-person raiding progression.

There will be no attunements or keys to obtain, and you won't be locked out of a 25-person instance if you decide to attempt the 10-person version, and vice-versa.

25-person raids will earn more, higher-level rewards, in what should be the equivalent of one "tier" of loot quality.
WHOA! I MEAN... WHOA!!! This is huge! While of course some are griping about it (as is any change to "appease the casuals" causes) I view this as an awesome and welcome change. Now any reason I'd ever have for leaving OWL is gone. Even though I won't see the 25-man versions of all the fights (which I hope and expect are different) I'll still get to see everything or at least close to everything. Kaz is a happy little raid-monkey.

The removal of attunements is a not a bad change. I don't think it's really good, but it's not bad. It can have bad repercussions if a guild is too lax on who can come in their raids. Of course this is not a flaw in the game but a flaw in the players who do it.

As for the "getting worse gear" thing, that's fine by me. Like I care about gear that much. Nope.

Going by the first (Inscription) recipe, which requires Peacebloom, they'll rely on the herbalist gathering profession.
What I read from this: My Death Knight will be the prettiest princess, as he prances through the fields picking flowers and singing happy songs.

Note: I hate Herbalism.

Every player will get a new spell book page to which they can add six glyphs - currently, four major and two minor.

Major glyphs will be effective in combat - adding damage over time or stun to a physical attack, for example - while minor glyphs will give convenient or cosmetic improvements, removing the need for some spell reagents.

The way inscription is going to work is you'll have a series of mats that you need to do and then you'll create a scroll that will actually do the buff of the spell in question. Each scroll will have a specific use, so you won't create a generic scroll, it'll be a special scroll that will upgrade this fireball to do this type of thing. Right now we're still trying to make sure we've got that kind of mechanic down. That's actually most of the work. Most of the work is figuring out how that all works, what the materials are, how that comes together, and once we have that, then figuring out what the individual spells are and what the individual spells are and what the effects are going to be is going to be relatively easy.
This is very interesting. So since Major Glyphs are the real deal, but there's a hard limit on how many you can have that will really mean a lot of number crunching to figure out what's the best choice. Will be interesting to see if there are more than one Glyph per spell, or if it's just one effect (for example Frostbolt has a glyph which makes it's chilled effect last longer, or if we can get extended chilled or increased range, or other stuff). Also can you stack Glyphs? The Potential strength of 4x +Damage to Frost Bolt Glyphs is scary.

Glyphs can be sold at the Auction House.

Allowing enchanters sell their enchantments at the Auction House is still planned.
EPIC WIN! (maybe I will continue to level Kaziel, since he's an Enchanter).

A raid encounter in the Nexus will let players free drakes and then fight on their back, allowing them to use their abilities. Bronze, Green, and Red drakes will be available and each one of them will have his own set of abilities. The boss fight is tuned around the abilities of the drakes and players will be able to pick any combination (e.g. 3 Green, 1 Bronze, and 4 Red). There's a boss fight that has lots of adds in it, and one of [the drakes] can apply this buff to a bunch of adds while another one can basically consume the buff and get health back from all of it and also assume a tanking role. So your tank is then healing himself based off of this debuff that another one is applying to everyone.
Okay, just gotta say... This sounds pretty freaking sweet. That's about it.

Developpers think they didn't reward PvE enough in the Burning Crusade, and will try to change that in WotLK.
Not that I'm complaining, since I love PvE, but... What? I mean, when they say "PvE" do they mean it like "Not PvP and Not Raid" or just "Not PvP"? If it's the former, then I understand, but the latter makes no sense at all. *scratches head*

Heroic dungeons weren't rewarding enough in BC, Wrath of the Lich King will change that and make player feel that Heroic instances have their own tier of loot instead of a few additions to the normal loot table. Expanding the Heroic Badge system will be a major step to achieve this.
Uh... no duh. Of course it didn't help that fully half of the Heroics had almost the exact same loot tables as the normal versions, other than the final boss fights. Way to go Blizzard.

The Arthas storyline will play out through the patches as well. So Arthas doesn't die in shipping Wrath of the Lich King. Arthas will die in a content patch.
I, Kaziel of Durotan, Lore-Monkey extraordinaire, approve of this message.

Anyway, that's the key points for me. There are some cool other stuff, but none of that really makes me go gaga. Yeah, I pretty much skipped over all the PvP stuff. Hard for me to get excited about WoW PvP with WAR still on the horizon (and with the Friends and Family Alpha only just now starting for WotLK, I really do expect WAR to come out quite a few months before WotLK sees the light of day).

And I'm back!